DOMINIC COSTABIR, Director, Hospitality Training Institute, shares the experiences of Team HTI at their Outbound LEAD program.
I’m lying on the grass on the banks of the Kundalika River. Venus and a few bright stars compete with the full moon and shine bright. The camp fire burns and my teammates surrounding it compete in an often tuneless (when I join in) but enjoyable song war (Antakshri). The rest of team HTI are sleeping (it is past 3 am) or playing cards in some tent or the other.
We are at the LEAD outbound - Leadership Entrepreneurship Administration Development. This is the 11th LEAD held (always at a Nature Trails Resorts) over the past five years where I get my team to bond, learn leadership and overcome fears.
Bonding comes from team activities and games, playing and eating together. Conquering fears comes from rock climbing, laddering, Burma Bridge, rappelling, river crossing, kayaking, white water rafting, trekking through the jungles using map and compass... On the trek Shalan nearly stepped on a snake; lucky the snake escaped unhurt but Shalan twisted her leg. Andy spooked two bulls. This time around camping in the forest under the full moon, Andy has to overcome his 'real' fear of ghosts, Vineet battles night blindness and Sushma battles her fears of insects - all with the help of teammates.
Earlier this night we pitched tents, cooked and ate under the moonlight - no electricity. The whole idea of jungle cooking and camping out to test the collaborative atmosphere of team HTI came from Chinmay Divekar, Director, Nature Trails Resorts. It’s the last night of this outbound LEAD.
My thoughts drift to Bruce Tuckman's model of team development: forming–storming–norming–performing. Team HTI was initially just a handful of like-minded individuals. At that time we were 'forming', and hardly witnessed any arguments or issues. But as the team grew in numbers we hit the 'storming' stage. Disagreements were many, some voiced in confrontational tones, some suppressed by inhibitions but most voiced to unrelated persons (gossip).
I sensed the discord and used every opportunity to expose disagreements during work and these outbound sessions. This meant the team argued a lot openly and aggressively. It earned me a nickname 'Naradmunni' (trouble maker). I wasn't averse to it. Disagreements (more ideas/ views) are good but the team needed to learn how to disagree without being hostile or disagreeable.
I gave them the theory (gyan) but nothing can replace live practice. So arguments and open disagreements were encouraged and prevailed irrespective of designations. Anyone could openly challenge anyone (irrespective of hierarchy) and this became the norm. Even if a teammate quoted Dominic (Director) as supporting an idea, the question asked angrily was, "Who is Dominic?"
Today I smiled at the moon because despite Team HTI losing a few teammates, growing in number and the increasing workload... collaboration has been the order of the day. No fights at an HTI outbound? Has Naradmunni lost his touch? No, Naradmunni can take a backseat; he is not needed now. HTI is now moving into the 'Norming' stage.
We have our CEO HTI (Kaushal), CEO LEAD (Vinod), COO (Rajan), CFO cum CTO (Bhavin) in place. We have the Heads and Partner Managers of various teams in place. They know their roles and responsibilities and together, as Team HTI, they will move on to 'Performing' with synergy.
Dominic CostaBir, Director, Hospitality Training Institute (HTI).
HTI is the outsourced training department to many hospitality organisations. Its defined processes have earned it clients like Air India, Hotel Taj, Ginger Hotels (a TATA Enterprise), Oberoi Airport Services (India & Mauritius), GCC (Saudi Arabia), Atmosphere Kanifushi& OBLU (Maldives), Zodiac, Manipal Hospitals...
Dominic passionately works at raising Customer Service Standards as he knows the value of the customer experience for an organisation to thrive. Author of 'The Waiter’ – a fast-paced motivational book for everybody who has to deal with customers.